We have studied the BLESS rhythms as a way to love our neighbors as ourselves, to bless them in the name of Christ without putting any conditions or expectations on them. To review:
Begin with prayer (don't do anything before this)
Listen (to the Spirit and to their stories)
Eat (share a meal, hang out, share everyday life events)
Serve (give of your life for their benefit)
Share your story, if and when appropriate
When I was visiting our church family in Italy last April, I shared this idea with our friends there. They instantly saw the value for their own church and neighborhood. Street corner and public tent methods of evangelism no longer have the impact they once had in this seaside community, which always has a flow of visitors from around Italy and other countries. The idea of BLESS has tremendous potential among a people suspicious of anything spiritual.
However, BLESS is an English acronym for a series of English words. So, my good friend Francesco set out to find an Italian equivalent. And his efforts forced him to dig deeply into the concept to get just the right words. It is still a work in progress, but so far, we have the acronym of PREGA, which is Italian for pray or please.
Prega prima di ogni cosa (pray before everything)
Riascolta prima di parlare (listen again before talking)
Estendere l'invito (extend an invitation)
Gioisci nel servirli (rejoice in serving them)
Annuncia la tua storia (tell your story)
The church there is in the process of making this their vision.
Furthermore, I am part of a learning community of Kansas City pastors who are studying BLESS and how to teach it effectively, and we are able to include Francesco electronically into this community. So, now I have the joy of walking through this material with my good friend 7 time zones away, and to see how BLESS / PREGA will impact a church and community we care so much about.
We will continue to bring up the idea of BLESS at Grace. It's a liberating way to genuinely love your neighbor in the name of Christ.